Remember the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? Well to be completely honest with you, it’s kinda true. You can be the best at something, but if you don’t know how to put yourself out there or get social with the right people, it’s quite hard to share your talent with the world. So how then do we make this happen?
If you are part of an industry which gives you the possibility to attend different events, that’s great- it makes it a little bit easier for you. But if you don’t have a job, which allows you to do this, do not despair. There are ways to get yourself out there. Firstly, you can attend different types of business events open to the public. Sure a lot of them are product focused and they just want to sell you stuff, but you may get to meet some very interesting people. Another great way is via online groups, like the ones you find on Twitter and Facebook. These are fantastic for connecting with likeminded individuals who are interested in the same things that you are. Some of them may already be working in the same field you aspire to one day be working in, so it’s a great way to meet and greet. Finally, have a great profile on LinkedIn and be proactive with your activity on there. This online channel is there to connect people from all over the world who are from the same professional fields or those who aspire to certain areas.
So now that you know how to get there, what is the secret of making actauuly getting to know them? The answer is simple and pretty logical really…networking. I remember when I first started attending networking events and thought to myself “How am I meant to act?” I thought that all these people did some kind of course on the skills of networking and they were all masters of it but myself. I soon learned this was just a silly thought.
You can get very far in life by being friendly. Nobody wants to speak to somebody who has no interest in them or does not develop their own social skills. Being friendly should be natural and should bring out your charisma. We all have this, but sometimes we may get caught up in insecurities and fail to recognize that we are in fact a joy to be around. Even the most introverted people have something very likeable about them. Be confident in your speech, approach everybody and smile a lot. Everybody wants to speak to somebody who smiles because they seem like welcoming people.
KNOW WHO EVERYBODY IS
Regardless if you are already working in the industry or you are wanting to, as a general rule, you should definitely do your homework. Do some research into the top people in that industry; learn a little bit about them. Look into the history of that specific field and get yourself up to date with everything. When you speak to people at a networking event and they can see how much passion and interest you have in that specific area, they will be very impressed. If you are attending an event organized specifically by a brand and it is invite only, do some online research into who the attendees are and get yourself familiar with their faces. When you see them you can just start talking to them. They may have not remembered you in the beginning (clearly because they haven’t met you yet) but if you show them you know who they are, they are most likely to engage in a conversation with you.
SPEAK TO EVERYONE
Some people will attend events just to get in with the “important” people. This means that they are really limiting their opportunities. Yes, do have a plan about who you want to approach but don’t ignore everybody else. You have to remember that you are all there for a reason and that is to network. There is also some sense of desperation in that and people can certainly see that. Approach anybody and learn about them. Just because somebody is not the CEO or the top dog it does not mean that they are not important. You don’t know who they are, where they have been or where they are going- but this is your chance to find out.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
What is the one thing that can always make us feel more relaxed and chatty in a social setting? Yes that’s right, a good old glass of booze. Most networking events will have wine, bubbles and beer, some will go all the way and open the entire bar…Free Martini’s all night did you say? Wrong. Keep that sort of behavior for those Saturday nights out with your friends. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have a drink or two but most definitely know your limits. Some industries are very small and it only takes an accidental act of stupidity to ruin it for you. Act like a professional and be natural. You are not there to party, you are there to mingle and expand your contacts network.
Remember it’s all about putting yourself out there. There is no specific behavior behind, nor it is rocket science. It’s simply using your basic social skills and engaging with other human beings…just on a more professional level.